Many people feel fantastic when they begin eating only raw foods and then, when the “honeymoon” phase wears off, begin feeling not-so-great. Others begin to think that eating raw is “not for them” as soon as the second or third day of raw eating. Before you decide that the raw eating plan is not for you, see if you are making one of these common mistakes made that can lead to a lack of energy and serious health consequences down the line and learn how to correct them easily.
1. Not Eating Enough Healthy Fat
Many people starting a raw food diet fill up their pantries with delicious and nutritious fruits and veggies, but neglect stocking up on proper sources of dietary fats. This may be intentional, such as if you are following the high-carb low-fat raw diet that suggests limiting your daily fat intake to 10-percent of your caloric intake, or by mistake, just because you were unsure what you can eat on a raw diet that contains fat.
It is important to include enough fat in your diet to support skin health (a common first sign of eating too little fat is very dry skin), brain health, and thyroid function (an under-active thyroid can make you feel drained and tired all the time). Fat also supports a healthy balance of body hormones.
Raw foods that contain healthy fats include avocados, raw nuts, coconut, and flax seeds. Make sure to grind your flax seeds before adding them to meals, because your body cannot extract the healthy fat from whole flax seeds. Every raw diet should include flax seeds, because they are a great source of omega-3s.
How much fat should you eat on the raw diet? About 25-30 percent of your caloric intake should come from healthy fats. There are several free online nutrient trackers that can help you stick to your goal.
2. Eating Too Little Sodium
Everywhere you look, a new study is showing a new hazard of eating too much sodium. Many people who eat processed foods do eat too much sodium, because packaged foods are filled with it. However, there are dangers of eating too little sodium, and a raw diet can easily end up very, very low in this essential nutrient that helps your body keep a healthy electrolyte balance.
In fact, eating too little sodium can even lead to a deadly condition called hyponatremia.
The great news is that you don’t have to add table salt or even sea salt to your diet, because there are vegetables that contain enough sodium to correct this imbalance. Raw beets, artichokes, Swiss chard, all contain about 100 mg (give or take a few mg) per serving. Spinach also contains about 25 mg per cup.
How many mg of salt should you strive to eat each day? About 1500mg is optimal, maybe a little more if you eat lots of bananas and other potassium-rich foods. That is because your body needs healthy potassium-to-sodium ratio, since they are both electrolytes.
If you don’t think you can meet this minimum daily sodium requirement by eating sodium-rich raw foods alone, add a little sea salt to some of your salads or on an avocado before you eat it, but just don’t get too carried away with the shaker and begin using it too much.